A quick dash to the town of Dalby, Queensland, Australia

Since the sun rises early where we live at this time of year, we had this crazy idea that we'd get up *really* early and drive the 2 hours and 40 minutes west-nor-west, to visit the small town of Dalby.

My phone woke us at 3 am and by 3:30 we were in the car driving west.

Because it was so overcast, with rain showers at several points along the way, it didn't get light until almost 5 am. That's late for this time of year here because in Brisbane we don't observe daylight saving so our summer mornings are usually very light, very early.

When the sun was finally fully over the horizon the views were awesome. You can drive less than an hour west of Brisbane to see lots of farming areas. Where the food crops are low, like in the photo above, then you can see 360' views. It's very cool.

The town of Dalby is officially in the Western Downs Regional Council area (the local governing body) but the much larger area that this is within is known as the Darling Downs. That covers an area that's over 77,000 hectares and includes Warwick, Stanthorpe, Goondiwindi and Toowoomba, plus several other smaller towns. Source

Dalby is right on the highway and we knew we were getting really close to parkrun when we spotted this sign.

Yay! We made it!

The parkrun was a three lap course (ish!) and was well signposted. It made it easy to follow. Which was good because Brad ended up right near the front!

I was so busy chatting on the first lap that I ran straight past this! Thankfully, the local I was running with was quick to call me back and I was en route again.
I was so busy chatting on the first lap that I ran straight past this! Thankfully, the local I was running with was quick to call me back and I was en route again.

Most of the course was on concrete except for a few hundred metres which was a combination of grass and this very dry cracked earth.

Look at how big the cracks were! Brad reckoned it had something to do with the ground having a really high clay content. All I know is I didn't want to put my foot on one of those cracks!

Because the path was mostly concrete and the weather was warm but mild I thought I’d run it barefoot. It went okay (though I have been strengthening my feet for more than a decade now to be able to do that).
Because the path was mostly concrete and the weather was warm but mild I thought I'd run it barefoot. It went okay (though I have been strengthening my feet for more than a decade now to be able to do that).

The course went over two bridges and under two roads. I liked going over the bridges but under the roads, there was less light and it was harder to look out for glass. My bare feet don't like glass!

This was the sort of view we had as we went over the bridges. In fact, we got lots of water views because those laps went along each side of the Myall Creek.
This was the sort of view we had as we went over the bridges. In fact, we got lots of water views because those laps went along each side of the Myall Creek.

I finished! It was good to do it and good to be done. Then it was time to explore the rest of Dalby.

First stop, a quick visit to the very colourful public toilets right near the start/finish area of parkrun; I wanted to get changed out of sweaty clothes before we went to the cafe in town. The toilet block gets a mention and its own photo collage because it's probably one of the most nicely painted toilets I've ever seen in any park in Australia!

Across the road was a building with another awesome set of paintings. This time it was of emergency service workers and defense force personnel. It's pretty life-like, right?

Before doing a lap of town we headed to the post-parkrun cafe which also happened to be the cafe in town we'd wanted to visit as it seemed like it was the best place in town by far.

The Urban Paddock is in the same building (a big old house) as a lovely retail store. That's me walking down the main hallway towards the cafe as I pass through a heap of pretty things I could buy. Clever, really ;) 

One of the little rooms off the side of that hallway had been turned into a kid's room. The next time I passed it there were three young children in there watching a loud but funny movie.

The view outside was nice. They'd really done the place up nicely! Everywhere I looked it looked great. I really wasn't expecting anything this upmarket for a little country town in regional Queensland.

See what I mean! More lovely spaces.

After looking around the various rooms we finally found a table that was reserved for parkrunners. We'd beat everyone else there so we ordered and then took a seat.

Apparently, I’m rather tall and skinny from the back. Haha.
Apparently, I'm rather tall and skinny from the back. Haha.

I feed Brad rather a lot of veggies at home so he was keen on a breaky burger with bacon - something I never cook. I also don't cook fish at home so I opted for the Eggs Benny with salmon. I would have loved some more veggies in both our dishes but they were pretty yummy and quite filling, so we were happy enough.

After an hour or so of eating and chatting with fellow parkrunners it was time to explore the main street of town. We tend to find that parkruns in regional locations where people have to drive an hour or more to get to another town are usually the most friendly and welcoming. We were really happy to stay and chat as long as we did.

As is typical for regional towns in Australia, Dalby's major intersections had big structures and even trees in the middle of the road. 

Another thing I've noticed in small country towns is that street corners often have gardens in them full of flowering plants. I particularly liked this one (though Brad thought it was messy!).

While Australia is officially a secular society we still have plenty of places of worship, most notably churches. I don't think I've been to a small town yet that hasn't a church. Usually, if it's big enough to have a pub, a primary school and a police station there will often be a church of some denomination as well.

In between the usual things like a supermarket, a newsagent and a cheap department store there were several boutique stores like this. I can only assume that enough wealthy people from Toowoomba and Brisbane must do the occasional day trip to Dalby and buy pretty things. Or maybe there are just a lot of male farmers making huge money who have wives who like to buy pretty things! (Totally stereotyping here, but it's a common thing to see in regional Australia).

Sometime after seeing the first pub and before I saw the first boutique clothes store I saw a series of these murals. Again, it was something unique to Dalby that I hadn't seen elsewhere before. Soon after this, I found the first of two op shops (charity stores that sell mostly second-hand products in order to raise money for disadvantaged people) and have a blast going on a mini "shopping spree". For $16 (AUD) I got a pair of green jeans, a short denim skirt, a long flowy orange skirt and two pairs of flat, strappy, awesome sandals that just happen to look awesome with all three pieces of clothing. Win!

It didn't take long to see most of the shops and much of the main street of Dalby. So we headed towards the creek to explore that space before heading home.

On the way, I found a cicada that was on the ground right where someone could stand on it. Since it looked alive and (I think) otherwise healthy I gently coaxed it onto my hand so I could relocate it to a safer place.

Cicadas are noisy buggers but they're not at all dangerous for humans. And being the bush girl that I am I had zero qualms about having it on my hand. Since I respect animals as much as humanly possible it was easy for me to be patient and gentle as I moved it across to a big tree where it belonged.

Speaking of animals, there were plenty more along the creek! Namely a truckload of these lizards. Very, very cute! 

 I think they're water dragons. And again, not dangerous to humans (while I'm sure it would hurt if they scratched or bit you, they tend to just run away from a human who tries to get close to them).

It was funny to see the ducks this close to this lizard. But I guess the ducks are far too big for the lizards to eat and the ducks mostly eat plants as their food source but any animals they eat are usually very tiny. So I guess these two species were no threat to each other. How nice to see them just co-existing :)

I think the local council must have only recently done up the walkways along the creek because the bridges looked new, the picnic shelters looked modern and then there were fun things like this. Can you see all the signs? I'm not sure what it was about but it was unexpected and pretty.

There were also these quirky metal statues that had engraved in them, "Dalby dude". 

Each one was doing something different.

There was another unexpected, visually pretty thing down near the creek: this small outdoor stage (there was an open green space behind where the photo was taken). I can only imagine that maybe the town got together to do things like singing Christmas Carols there?

It looked like these lanterns had been hand-painted, perhaps by the kids at the local primary school. I think someone must have picked a light and fun colour scheme and then said, "Here's the paint. Have fun!". They looked great!

We still had a little way to go to get back to the car and at one point found ourselves re-walking part of the parkrun course we'd already done only a couple of hours earlier.

I remember someone saying that parkrun had to be cancelled several times last year because of the flooding. (This is a flood height marker, so if the creek is in flood and water covers part of this sign you know how deep the creek is).

There were still visual reminders of the last big flood there with many handfuls of compressed leaf litter squashed against this fence post at least half a metre or more above the normal creek height. It would have been strong, moving water that picked all those leaves up and place them all there together like that. A flood that high would immediately see their weekly parkrun cancelled and the nearby campground also partly underwater.

But I guess there are plenty of times when things are normal, all is calm and the local kids want nothing more than to jump on this homemade swing and splash into the creek :)

And there you have it, Dalby. It's a small town but we were glad to visit and it has inspired us to do some more road trips to other regional Queensland towns.

All photos by @new.things used with his explicit permission and blessing. I'm happy to share this story of our very long Saturday trip with you. Until next time!

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